On the Beach is a brilliant example of Manet's rapid brushwork and his gift for immortalizing the instant. Looking at the warm beige of the fine sand, one becomes a witness to the passage of time, while the waves on the shore below beat out the measure. This is Manet at his finest - with his delicate shades of gray, Parisian gray, and his deft brushwork, which with a few strokes suggests the foam of the waves breaking on the beach. The French city of Boulogne, which Manet visited with his family in 1864 and 1868, was part of a burgeoning resort culture developed during the Second Empire (the reign of Napoleon III in France from 1852 to 1870). New train lines linking Paris and the coast made the seaside accessible to both the middle and wealthy classes. This created an alternative society with rituals and expectations that were understandably less formal than those in the capital. Manet’s On the Beach, a view of female bathers on the sand and in the water, captures the pleasures of summer recreation on the beach available to both Parisians and local residents.
On The Beach
oil on canvas • 40.0 x 48.3 cm